Looking for cancer treatment info on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or other social media sites? Nearly one in three of the articles you’ll find contain misinformation that’s often harmful, finds a study by the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers asked experts from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which develops evidence-based professional guidelines for cancer care, to evaluate 200 popular cancer-related articles on social media sites.
Misinformation, such as the misuse of evidence or the use of misleading titles, characterized 32.5% of the articles. More concerning: 30.5% contained possibly harmful information, such as encouraging people with cancer to delay potentially curative care, use unproven (and often expensive) therapies and self-medicate with toxic compounds. The harmful articles were more likely to be shared than more accurate ones.
Looking for reliable info? The American Cancer Society (cancer.org), itself a good source, recommends the American Society of Clinical Oncology (cancer.net), CancerWise (mdanderson.org/cancerwise), Medline Plus (nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cancers.html), National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov), National Comprehensive Cancer Network (nccn.org) and Oncolink (oncolink.org).